2011 Distinguished Alumni Awards Recipients
Bill Dobbins loves Albion. Simply stated yet running incredibly deep, there truly is no better way to describe the feeling he has for his hometown and alma mater.
A premedical student who played football, basketball, and baseball (and was part of the 1971 Athletic Hall of Fame baseball team), Dobbins gained admission to the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine after just three years at Albion. His medical training completed, he began practicing in Marshall with his brother James Dobbins, '69. Younger brother Thomas Dobbins, '79, later joined the family medical practice that continues to serve patients today in Marshall and Albion. For a quarter-century, Dr. Bill's care and compassion for his patients were well known throughout the community--and beyond, as he regularly made trips to Jackson to administer care to incarcerated individuals.
Throughout those 25 years, Dobbins helped a number of Albion premedical students gain firsthand knowledge of the practice of medicine--which sometimes included picking them up at their dorms for a late-night baby delivery at the hospital. Those students are practicing physicians and physician assistants today.
In 2003, Dr. Bill changed gears, taking a leadership role in the family business. Since his father, Richard, started Caster Concepts in 1986, Dobbins had helped grow the business and handle the financials. But becoming president and CEO meant going back to school: he received his Executive M.B.A. from the University of Michigan in 2004.
While Dobbins has successfully expanded Caster Concepts into new, technologically focused areas, receiving Manufacturer of the Year Awards in Jackson and Albion, he has continued to give back to the community and Albion College. In 2004, he initiated the Swingin' at the Shell summer concert series. His other community efforts include the Victory for Kids playground project and the Manufacturing Education Fund at the Albion Community Foundation. His close ties to the College's Gerstacker Institute mean that Albion students will often be found hard at work as Caster Concepts interns.
In his leisure time, Dobbins enjoys golf, cycling, and collecting amberina art glass. He and his wife, Karen Knudson Dobbins, '74, have three children: Andrew, Emily, '03, and Caroline, '12.
Bill Dobbins continues to live in the place that he loves--Albion, Michigan.
Deb Fellows promptly began contemplating the life of a writer upon graduating from Albion with Phi Beta Kappa honors and majors in English and sociology. After many months of traveling, she found a magazine job in the big city ... working on such inspiring titles as Industrial Waste and Water and Sewage Works.
After two years in Chicago's trade publishing scene, she moved to Northern Michigan to figure out how to wed her now-true passion for magazines with her desire to live in the beautiful northern reaches of the Great Lakes State. Not long afterward--in June 1981--with a pledged $20,000, Fellows, at the age of 24, launched Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine. From day one, its mission was to share stories that celebrate and protect the natural resources, small communities, and unique lifestyle of Northern Michigan.
Today, Fellows' Traverse City-based company, MyNorth Media, employs 26 people. Thirty years after its first issue, Traverse has a circulation of 30,000. It has won Magazine of the Year honors from the International Regional Magazine Association as well as First Place General Excellence awards from the City and Regional Magazine Association. Traverse is also the flagship of a group of eight magazines that includes Northern Home & Cottage. There's a book division, too: published titles include Fellows' own Reflections of a Life Up North, The Cottage Cookbook, and others.
Three years ago, MyNorth Media launched MyNorth.com; in 2010, the Web site received nearly a half-million visitors. Earlier this year, MyNorth Media was chosen as part of Folio magazine's Folio 40 for its innovative and successful use of multimedia.
Fellows has led national webinars for Folio, and she speaks at conferences around the country on such topics as blending new and traditional media. A member of Alpha Chi Omega who wrote for The Pleiad, Fellows has never forgotten Albion--regularly hiring students as interns. She's a former board member of the Leelanau Conservancy and also belongs to the smart growth-focused Elm Street Writers Guild.
Deb is married to psychiatrist Neal Fellows; they live on the shores of Lake Leelanau in Leelanau County and have four children: sons Ben, Peter, and Austin, and daughter Olivia.
With an unrelenting focus on other individuals as well as the community at large, Kathryn Koegel continues to make an impact on the lives of many Flint, Michigan, residents.
She received her bachelor's degree from Albion in 1978, and immediately became a financial assistant at her family's company, Koegel Meats, which by then was already a Michigan institution, having been launched by her grandfather, Albert, in 1916. It wasn't her first job at the place that was already a second home of sorts: during the summer months of her Albion career, she gained experience in the packaging department.
It wasn't long before she found her true niche with the company, as its No. 1 people person. Today as vice president, she oversees operations, which includes a particular focus on employee relations. Over the course of three decades, she has also led efforts in consumer relations and community outreach, executing projects on behalf of the company. Koegel's day-to-day leadership has kept the company thriving to the tune of 250,000 pounds of frankfurters and lunch meats produced and distributed every week.
Kathryn Koegel's commitment to Flint extends well outside the factory. She is an active supporter of both the Flint Institute of Music and the Flint Institute of Arts, and has served in leadership roles with the Junior League of Flint, the Genesee County Historical Society, and the McLaren Regional Medical Center Foundation. Koegel also played a key role in building and managing Penny Whistle Place, a beloved children's playground.
The YWCA of Flint recognized Koegel's efforts by presenting her its Women of Achievement award.
In the time she does set aside for herself, Koegel enjoys travel, reading, sewing, and skiing. She resides in Flint, Michigan.
Koegel. It's a household name in Michigan, especially during summer evenings around the grill. John Koegel and his sister, Kathryn Koegel, '78, are keeping it that way as third-generation leaders at Koegel Meats.
Fresh out of Albion with an economics and management degree, John Koegel started working on special projects for the 95-year-old, family-run Flint company started by his German-born grandfather, Albert. A major assignment for the recent graduate involved setting up bar coding and scanning for inventory purposes. Before long, Koegel rose into a sales manager position and in 1994 became the company's president, taking over for his father, Albert, Jr.
From bockwurst to Whole-E-Smokes, Koegel's nearly 60 products today account for over $28 million in annual sales at 1,200-plus locations in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. The Flint factory employs 115 people. And while business practices have evolved over the course of a century, Koegel has not touched the company's commitment to delivering to individual stores, thereby ensuring a fresher product.
Before settling into the family business, Koegel made sure not to just settle during his time at Albion. A member of the Professional Management Program (now the Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management), he attained Albion College Fellow distinction and graduated magna cum laude. He also laced up his skates as a member of Albion's club-level ice hockey team. Today, Koegel's free time is less grounded--he's a private pilot and owns his own plane. He's not always whizzing about, though; he also finds enjoyment in calmer activities such as fly fishing and playing the guitar.
Koegel serves as vice president and board member of Sunset Hills Cemetery in Flint, and is also a leading trustee for the city's First Presbyterian Church. He has a particular love for the Tall Pine Council's Boy Scouts of America. His active involvement with Scouting has included time as a den leader and on the executive board, and he has received the Silver Beaver Award for his distinguished service to youth.
Along with John, the Koegel household includes his wife, Lisa, and their four children: Katlyn, Chloe, Carson, and Cameron. They live in Flint, Michigan.
A natural: That's an accurate phrase to describe Joel Manby. A brilliant mind and a strong business sense--atop an even stronger foundation of family and faith--have carried him to many successes in life. And more than a decade in a CEO's corner office has done nothing to dull those qualities.
Born and raised in Battle Creek, Manby went on to shine 25 miles to the east at Albion College: class valedictorian; a Rhodes Scholar finalist; Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Nu fraternity; an All-MIAA selection and member of Albion Athletic Hall of Fame teams in football and baseball; and an NCAA Postgraduate Scholar (one of only four in Division III in 1981).
Manby went to work at General Motors, and two years later he was in Harvard's M.B.A. program on a GM scholarship. Upon completion in 1985, he was back at GM, helping to launch the Saturn brand. After seven years with Saturn and a two-year term with GM's International Division, he was promoted to CEO of Saab Automobile USA. After a brief dot-com calling to start the 21st century, he has been on a nearly 10-year ride as president and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, the largest family-owned theme park corporation with 10,000 employees and 26 properties in 10 states.
Beyond his career commitments, Manby maintains an unwavering devotion to his family as well as his Christian faith. He serves as board chairman of reThink, a nonprofit dedicated to values education. Other volunteer work includes the Salvation Army's National Advisory Board; he is also a former trustee of Albion College.
In short, Manby is not your everyday boss. Millions saw that for themselves when CBS featured him on an episode of Undercover Boss in spring 2010. While learning the ropes of several customer-service jobs incognito, he got to know several of his employees as well as some of their obstacles in life. By show's end, he was able to make a difference for each of them--something that has always come naturally to Joel Manby.
He and his wife, Marki, are the parents of four daughters: Lauryn, Erin, Jesse, and Anna. They live in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Grand Rapids native David Sennema came to Albion nearly 60 years ago with a gifted singing voice and an eagerness to participate. Naturally, he joined the College choir and sang in the Sigma Nu fraternity's quartet. He graduated from the College with a deep appreciation for the arts and an amazing capacity not only to achieve, but to create.
Drafted into the Army one year after graduation and stationed in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, he concluded that the Palmetto State was the place he would eventually make his mark. In 1964 he became the first full-time executive director of the Columbia Music Festival Association, where he helped to start the South Carolina Philharmonic. And the hits kept coming: in 1967, the first executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission; in 1970, a move to the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., to help lead state arts grants; in 1973, a stop in Springfield, Illinois, to create a master's program in arts administration at Sangamon State University.
He saved arguably his best success for his return to South Carolina, in 1976, when he became director of the state's Museum Commission. There was one thing missing, however: a museum. Starting with a staff of four and virtually no collections, let alone a building, Sennema, over more than a decade of effort, led the way in creating a state museum of history, natural history, and science and technology, as well as art. The South Carolina State Museum opened in 1988 in a historic mill building in downtown Columbia.
In the 1980s, Sennema launched his own arts management consulting firm. Now retired, he has put his magical voice to paper as well--to date, he has written 25 short stories and a one-act play.
Twenty-five years ago, South Carolina awarded its highest citizen honor, the Order of the Palmetto, to David Sennema. It's wholly appropriate that Albion College act similarly through this Distinguished Alumni Award.
In 2006, Sennema received the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award. Presented by the South Carolina legislature, the award honors a South Carolinian who has demonstrated exceptional achievement and statewide impact through his leadership, support, and advancement of the arts.
David and his wife, Martha, live in Columbia, South Carolina, and are the parents of son Daniel and daughters Julia and Alice.